Running (and most cardio in general) has always been a "hard no" for me until I was recently introduced to Team I WILL. On September 13th I began training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and have continued to do so every Tuesday since. 

A brief back story about Team I WILL:

 I WILL is a running group that participates in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon raising money for the Toronto Rehab Foundation. The founder of I WILL, Rob MacDonald, started this initiative two years ago when he was given a second chance at life. After a terrible accident 4 years ago, Rob was classified as an ASIA B Paraplegic with a 5% chance of ever walking again. He is now running a 42 km Marathon

Talk about motivational. 

Now that I've hit the pavement and added a new chapter to my fitness journey I feel obligated to share the experience with the other cardio naysayers. My hopes in writing this is to give people an idea of what to expect and hopefully encourage those who are like (the old) me and thought "anyone who runs is clinically insane", to change their views and give it a try.

Your body will thank you. 


Week 1: Death by Cardio

Now I know the title for this isn't the most reassuring, but my god is it ever true. For my first run I was hot out the gate, running way too fast for my own good trying to keep up with the girl in the group who claimed "she wasn't a fast runner" HA. 

As I'm literally gasping for air and starting to feel my entire core cramp up I hear my trusty Nike running app tell me I've hit 1 KM. ONE f*ucking KM. I couldn't believe it. How had it only been 1 KM. Is this a joke? This app must be broken. 

As my pace slowed and everyone disappeared in front of me I realized I was on my own. The cramping got worse... and worse... and all I could think of was high school gym class and how my hatred for this hasn't changed one bit. Finally my Nike app chimes in and tells me I've hit 2 KM. I silently celebrated my 2 K as if this was some sort of monumental feat. We all know it wasn't.

At some point between 2 and 3 KM I walked. Sorry I'm not sorry. 

Walking was a blessing. The cramping finally went away and I picked up the pace around the 3 KM mark. Unfortunately, that was short lived as the cramping came right back like that creepy guy at the bar who wont leave you alone. So I walked again still questioning how the hell people do this. I ran out the last 2 KM and finally heard my app tell me I hit 5 K. Thank god that was over. Where's my Uber.

Distance: 5.01 KM             Average Pace: 6 min 40             Total run time: 33 min 23

Tips from this weeks run:

1. Focus on not dying (actually though)


Week 2: Learning How to Run

My goal for this weeks run was to actually run this one and save the walking dead look for Halloween. I felt strong mentally and was determined to do better than last week.  I started off a little too fast again (clearly didn't learn my lesson last time around), but when i hit the 1 KM mark I was somewhat surprised. The cramping was much less and it started much later on. Winning. 

As the cramping started to dissipate I felt a glimmer of hope that I might actually be able to do this. I focused on my music and realized two songs was roughly one KM. I kept telling myself one more song, one more song and before I knew it I was at 4K! (shockingly enough that's not a typo). As I turned around and headed for home I felt my self start to slow. I was struggling to make that last kilometer but dug deep and got through it. 

Distance: 5.03 KM             Average Pace: 6 min 19     Total run time: 31 min 47

I shaved roughly 2 min off my run from week 1 and ran an extra 0.02 KM (that totally counts)

Tips from this weeks run: 

1. Push through the cramping

2. Get a playlist ready that gets you excited about hearing the next track. 

3. Run slow but don't ever walk


Week 3: Find Your Pace

Now that I was a bit more comfortable with the whole process I set a goal of 6KM and focused on keeping a pace. Based on my last run my average pace was 6 minutes and 20 seconds per KM (the Nike Run app i mentioned earlier tells you every KM you hit with your average pace and total time while you're running. Life saver). 

KM 1: Cake walk. Pace 5'55. This pace is a little off as I hit every red light trying to get to the running path. I still knew I could slow down a bit as long as I was under 6'20.

KM 2: Easy breezy: Pace 5'51. Even though this is faster than my first KM I knew it was more realistic and I was actually a bit slower. I still had some wiggle room before hitting my average pace from the last run. 

KM 3: Why am I not dying yet? Pace 6'19. No cramps. Not struggling. Keeping pace. I got this!

KM 4: Holy shit I think I'm a runner.  Pace 6'40. Speed decreased a little here but I was so happy with how I felt It didn't matter to me. Still no cramps! I set this as my new pace for the rest of the run. 

KM 5: I JUST RAN 5K! Pace 6'59. I was beyond happy that I felt like I just casually ran 5K. My goal was in sight. 6K here I come! 

KM 6: Did this just get easier? Pace 6'36 Somehow I have gone the furthest I have ever run and I just shaved 23 seconds off my pace. WTF!

KM 7: I chose to keep going! Pace 6'21 I just kicked this runs ass. 

I'm actually looking forward to next week. Go figure.

Distance: 7.57 KM             Average Pace: 6 min 23     Total run time: 48 min 17

Tips from this weeks run:

1. Pace it out

2. Try to enjoy the process

3. Don't stop because you hit your target


If you're not a runner and hate cardio I really hope this post has inspired you to at least give it a try. You will sleep better, feel happier and know that your working towards something good. 

For everyone that was already a runner - I totally get it now. 


Laura Davidson

FITNESSLaura Davidson